Self-publishing websites:


So in terms of websites that allow you to self-publish your own stories for feedback, promotion etc, several spring to mind.

Firstly, then, 'Readwave' is a relatively new, user friendly 'facebook'-type site that subscribes to our impatient, fast-food guzzling, high-paced modern society by encouraging 3-minute long stories. It even proclaims 'you've got 3 minutes!' As you go to start writing, leaving you scrambling to condense your myriad philosophical ideas and life-changing, fire-inducing epiphanies into a you-tube video-sized package.

In reality, however, this is a good thing, as with so much these days, people are far more likely to take a chance reading a short piece. The site describes itself as a 'community', and the feedback and reviews you will receive (dependent as you go along on your own level of involvement, reading and commenting on other's pieces) are usually quite constructive and helpful. It does veer at times into mutual back-slapping territory but really, this is unavoidable and can be a good initial (and continuing) confidence boost anyway.

They also 'employ' volunteer staff reviewers, sending out weekly pieces for them to review and help in choosing which stories will make their home page, which again can be useful for honing editing and close reading skills, and becoming more aware in applying the same processes to your own work. Readwave itself is big on life pieces, so the most popular pieces tend to focus on life stories, with the barometer often fluctuating towards the cheesy spectrum...although I guess this is kind of a reflection of popular culture, so not really their fault, and in fairness, it's pretty brave to pour out your heart, or take an awful life experience, commit it to words, transform it into art, and then put it up online for the world to read (and learn from) so they don't need me putting a miserable spin on it.

Their layout is super social media aware, with 'like' buttons (in the shape of hearts, bleurgh) and share options etc. Ended up having some pretty interesting conversations with folks through the staff reviewer role, and it's interesting to see who has been successful in being published outside of the self-publishing bracket. Travel writing, for example, appears to be very marketable and popular, even if the writing itself is decidedly dodgy and chock full of errors - fighting snakes and bears and drinking flaming shots in Tunisia or wherever will always go down well.

It's good as well to absorb other budding writer's positive promotion - I had kinda assumed the people who described themselves as 'authors' and had links to published works had actually been published externally, but turns out the vast majority were in fact self-published. Can't knock positive promotion though, and if you've done all that work anyway.

I'd put Readwave pretty high up there for its easy-going, friendly 
community and social media friendly layout. It could do with a 
forum-type section to make it easier for contributors to engage, but they seem to be constantly active in sourcing out and developing new ideas to keep the site evolving so it'll be interesting to see it grow.

One final thought is that they are keen on writers including pictures, which again ties in with the facebook-aware grabbing of attention amongst rafts of text. Again, a good idea, but find/create your own picture and upload it to accompany your piece. They have a nice selection of house photos to choose from, but invariably 2000 other people will also have chosen the picture you spent ages selecting.Readwave site link


10 thoughts on “Self-publishing websites:

  1. Hi Stephen. First of all, I thank you for dropping by one of my pieces of ‘cyber-space’. Apart from the blog, I also have a website, as you will find out if you have time to look around on your next visit. I digress.
    I enjoyed reading your thoughts on ReadWave. I was invited along when from the previous site, when ReadWave got underway. I was a Staff Reviewer for a while before the whole ‘life’ writing thing started taking over. I did post a couple myself, but as you quite correctly spotted, the majority err on the cheesy side. I drop by occasionally, but I gave up the Staff Reviewer task because of the way the site was leaning towards, cheesy life pieces and, again as you spotted, ‘mutual back-slapping’.
    I’ll be following you now and getting back for a better look in a day or so. I’m presently refreshing my blog and today got rid of about six of the blogs I had been following … which was easy, because they were static! I’m up to my neck in the ‘A to Z Challenge’ this month.
    Till later.

    • Ah nice one Tom. I will have a look at your website. Lots of interesting stuff on the blog. Aye, life writing’s a great way to externalise thoughts, but I think it is very hard to do without veering into triteness, and I prefer fiction so yeah, was losing enthusiasm for the staff reviewer thing too. Feedback is an interesting balance, its great initially to hear nice things, but a mutual appreciation clique isn’t much use. Don’t expect great things here…I am just trying to figure this and twitter out…feels like being trapped in the matrix at the moment..bit of a technophobe..all the best with your a to z challenge.

  2. Hi Stephen, great to see you here. I remember you and your writing well. Like Tom, I’ve given up on Readwave for the same reasons he mentions. Also, like you, I’m more interested in fiction than life writing. The final straw was the limits imposed on reviewing. I’ve always felt my critiquing skills were constructive, useful, yet kind. When RW started placing restrictions on what reviewers could publically say, it was time to say bye. Plus, I didn’t like the word limit. Ok, moan over!

    • Ah, cheers, Sally, likewise. I had been reading your blog in the past and it’s v helpful. The early stuff on writing advice your friend gave you, its important to remember. I believe life writing is quite popular now, even types of writing therapy, so maybe that is kinda the angle with RW. Found it quite tricky to review such stories anyway, like when things are so personal found it hard to be dragging up grammar etc, so the lines start to blur at bit, sharing life stories or a writing site…but for sure you seem great at the feedback. I wondered if you had used It might be more to your liking if you still wanted to use such a site. I like it but I could do much more in terms of being active on the site, you know. I will put up some thoughts on it(on this v basic embryonic blog) later. Thankyou for commenting and saying hi, I hope your novel is going well 🙂

      • I think the trouble is, at least for me, when you use writing platforms, you spend more time feeding back on other people’s work than actually writing your own. Not that I’m averse to critiquing – I want to encourage other writers, and have them do the same for me – but it can get to the point that that’s all you’re doing. So hard to get the balance right… or ‘write’ 🙂 Right, offskis. I have a long drive ahead of me, and a week of madness with the younger child. I’ll catch up with your postings when I get back. I haven’t read any of your stuff in an age! (Apart from this blog post of course!) Oh yes – the novel *holds head in shame* Another 20,000 words to go, but can’t seem to get the impetus to finish it off. Have finished my course now, so hopefully when I get back. Of course, will have to re-read the whole bloody thing now! Ah well. You having a go at a novel? Sal x

  3. Again, many thanks for such an informative post; you’ve provided a very balanced review of the site that helps allow the prospective reader/contributor to make an informed choice about its value.

Thankyou for reading, feedback/constructive criticism always welcome :-)

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